Grooves Grooves No. 2: En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado
Latin America is united in its struggle against oppression, whether it is inflicted by foreign powers or from a minority military regime. In the US we are taught as school children that the slaves sang gospels and spirituals and that is where the Blues come from. For most of the Americas the musical influence brought over from Africa (another location of mass oppression) was more grounded in percussion, the cajón being a popular instrument in Cuba and Peru as when under suspicion the instrument returned to its original function as a crate. Hand claps, makeshift drums and group singing have led countless generations to stomp their feet and dance, for a brief moment forgetting the unmentionable daily struggle. Through the dialogue of music and dance, a deeply spiritual experience, groups unified and broke their chains, built their own schools, and taught their own history. Imagine the atmosphere in the back room of a Haitian slave house the night before the revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture droppin knowledge, sharing strength and love.
This mix is a direct response to the current passing of Arizona Immigration Law SB1070. This is an issue that affects me personally for a multitude of reasons. Both of my parents immigrated here illegally when they were young. My father crossed back and forth a number of times, sometimes in the dashboard of a car, between two other people in a trunk, or on foot through the desert. My parents obtained their citizenship soon after I was born. My dad lost his factory job after 20+ years in 2007 and they moved out to Phoenix because real estate was affordable and he wanted to start his own business. My dad stocks vending machines in big, white-collar buildings and he drives a big white van filled with sodas and snacks to work every day. Three years ago, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began arresting and detaining all illegal immigrants they came in counter with.
Now, my parents moved to Maricopa county three years ago. My dad drives a big white truck, and he’s a middle-aged man who looks more than his fair share of Mexican, throw in his imperfect English and we’re talking my dad getting pulled over for the most arbitrary reasons. Luckily he is a citizen, but there are about 500,000 illegal immigrants in the state of Arizona alone. Some of these people may have been here for thirty years and have kids. My grandma waited for five years before giving up on the endless bureaucratic red tape known as the naturalization process. Is it right for families to be broken up for the simple fact that a family member is here illegally? When there are mouths to feed, is it okay to send a father who was working as a landscaper to a prison with a number of MS13 and other gang networks?
Yes, there are illegal immigrants who do need to be arrested and those are with affiliations, with positions in the drug cartels of Latin America. The reason that Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of America is precisely due to the level of cartel influence in the state. These cartels are routinely killing people, cops, government officials in Mexico and their reign of terror is spreading into the US. However, SB1070 negatively affects the situation for two huge reasons:
1) It misappropriates manpower, facilities and resources to the menial task of busting non-threatening illegal immigrants. I heard Joe Arpaio speak on a San Diego conservative radio program recently where he bragged about picking up 30 illegals at McDonalds – wouldn’t the money it cost to transport, book, do paperwork, house and feed (not to mention the wages for the law enforcement used) these harmless illegals gone to better use trying to bust the US connections of drug cartels?
2) This law will necessitate the gun-toting cartel to act violently whenever encountering a situation where law enforcement are in the mix. Maybe in the past it would have been possible for cartel members to be pulled over while transporting guns, drugs or people and simply be excused by the police, but now in a situation where they risk everything they may react aggressively.
The biggest criticism of the law I have is the fact that it is inspiring prejudice, it is inspiring hate. The law itself is not racist, but it is making it acceptable to look at one person and accuse them of being a criminal. There are ad campaigns on Arizona TV that blame illegals for taking American jobs (I don’t see too many citizens working the jobs illegals have) and spreading the idea that an illegal immigrant is the same thing as a violent criminal. Those who claim that I’m paranoid and full of liberal propaganda need only acknowledge that states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota are attempting to enact laws inspired by SB1070. How much violent crime do illegals cause in those states? Are they getting a lot of angry Canadians?
To be serious, though, Arizona gun laws (signed into legislation by Governor Jan Brewer, who also signed SB1070) allow a person over 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm. Without a background check. Only two other states have that law and they are Alaska and Vermont, two states where if you’re wondering around outside you probably need a gun to protect your ass from a wolf or bear. Are Arizonians trying to protect themselves from illegals? This is a bomb just waiting to go off.
The mix is reflective of the situation, but reflective of the Latin American identity as a whole. Salsa, cumbia, son, samba and other styles are represented, but ultimately the focus is on the beautiful artistic expression as much as it is in the spiritual communion of dance. Currently, I have it streaming and downloadable from Soundcloud. To download, click on the down arrow on the right of the player. I have the tracklist posted in the comments.
– Eric Cornejo, ethnomusicologist from http://abeardofstars.blogspot.com/.